By Ryan Jordan, Staff Writer —
Chattanooga Theatre Centre presents “The Glass Menagerie,” a memory play, beginning March 9.
A memory play is a play in which the protagonist narrates events from memory as they occur on stage, thus allowing for certain details to be exaggerated, since human memory is not perfect.
Tennessee Williams, the playwright of “The Glass Menagerie,” coined the term of a memory play. “The Glass Menagerie” first premiered on Broadway in 1945 to great success. Furthermore, the play is autobiographical, as Williams based the protagonist on himself.
Executive Director Todd Olson will be directing the play this month. Olson thinks the protagonist of the play will be relatable to many college students.
“Tom Williams knew struggle. He was not understood by his parents, particularly his working-class, abusive father, and he spent a lonely childhood reading books,” Olson said. “Furthermore, like many young people, Tom spent about seven years trying to find himself, attending three different colleges in two different states before eventually moving to New York City. He never wanted to work a nine-to-five job like those around him, so he regularly drew upon his unhappy childhood for inspiration for his stories, hoping it would eventually get him somewhere.”
Olson also thinks that although art students may be most inclined to watch a theatrical production, “The Glass Menagerie” has something to offer everyone.
“It has sustained itself for over 70 years because it touches on things we can all relate to, such as the struggle to find our way in life, please parents, and mitigate the guilt of the many things we should have done differently,” Olson said.
Olson also elaborated on the autobiographical nature of the production.
“Tennessee bravely and painfully put himself as a character in this story, which is about how torn he was to leave his family at 21-years-old. Since his father had abandoned his family years earlier, Tennessee was the chief breadwinner. His older sibling Laura was socially awkward and struggled with social advancement, so she created a fantasy life of animals, nature, and a glass collection. Tennessee was later haunted by the memory of leaving his crippling sister, as she would later receive a lobotomy and be institutionalized for the rest of her life,” Olson said.
Olson thinks what makes theatre better than college students’ typical weekend plans is its time-sensitive nature.
“Movies and clubs will always be there,” Olson said. “Live theatre only lasts for a brief time and then disappears, only to live on in memory.”
“The Glass Menagerie” will be presented at Chattanooga Theatre Centre, from March 9 to 25. Ticket prices vary by seating section and can be bought online or at the box office.
For more information about the Chattanooga Theatre Centre and to buy tickets, visit http://www.theatrecentre.com.